Seneca Club honors local community members during annual dinner
The Seneca Club of Brooklyn hosted its 118th anniversary dinner dance on Tuesday where it honored local community members including everyone from Mayor Bill de Blasio to small-business owners at Giando on the Water in Williamsburg.
“This is about recognizing the people that make Brooklyn a great community,” said organizer Steve Cohn. “This isn’t about necessarily honoring the biggest names we can find, but instead it’s about showing people that we care about them even if they’re contributing in ways that people don’t see.”
Fifty-one people were honored at the event, which focuses more on dinner and dancing than it does on speeches.
However, Cohn did stop to speak about one honoree — Maxwell D. Schwartz. Schwartz is a student at Cold Springs Harbor High School in Long Island, who started a political club called the Cold Springs Harbor Student Civil Rights Club.
“Max found a civil rights group in Long Island,” Cohn said. “He’s a very special person who has been able to bring people together in a troubled time politically. We’re very proud of him.”
Schwartz started the club this year because he and other students felt trapped in a bubble where they weren’t hearing outside ideas. The club hosted forums on various political topics where the group invited politicians from both sides of the political spectrum to discuss things like immigration and free speech.
“The forum was incredible,” Schwartz said. “County Legislator DuWayne Gregory let us use the Legislature’s Office, which is about a 200-person auditorium, and we were able to get both Republican and Democratic politicians to take part.
“It was a situation where the students really wanted something like this to break our little bubble, and they really responded positively to it,” Schwartz continued. “We’ve had two forums now and it’s something that is going to continue on even without me.”
Honorees included Borough President Eric Adams, Mayor de Blasio, Acting District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, Scott Rynecki, Public Advocate Letitia James, Gerald Esposito, Assemblymember Joseph Lentol, Councilmember Steve Levin, Alicja Winnicki, Brooklyn Bar Association President Aimee Richter, Craig Montalbano and Andy Hoan, president of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce.
Men of the Year included Lenny Schwartz, Charles Finkelstein, Rabbi David Niederman, Rabbi Simcha Weinstein, Robert Galpern, Leo Barrile, Arthur Katz, Steven Schwartz, Joseph Hershkowitz, William Chambers, Raymond Mackalonis and Patrick Dinko. Women of the Year were Mary Odomirok, Julie Vergara, Ramon Vergara, Monica Holowacz, Carol DeLillo, Diane Lewis, Judy Pecorino and Harrisse Stein.
Businesses of the Year were Herald Strategies, Giando on the Water, BARC Shelter, Dime Savings Bank of Williamsburg and United Metro Energy.
Couples of the Year included Gina Argento and John Ciafone, and Eva and Louis Galpern.
Recipients of the Carmine “Dusty DeChiara Community Awards were Richard Mazur of the North Brooklyn Development Corp, Joseph Foglia, Jennifer Isca, Alejandro Vilalba, Marybeth Peterman, Heather Cortez, Lisa Connors and four members of the NYPD’s 84th Precinct: Det. Brian Laffey and Officers Julius Hudson, John Kenny and Diana Torres.
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